I'm trying to explore if there is any plausible connection between these words. I find them to be somewhat similar in English, where one might carelessly drop the initial "o".

I believe there is some confusion injected in that curi or curus is a Latinization of the Greek kouros, as opposed to puer. Cor is the Latin root for heart, and distinct from the Greek kour, and becomes cœur and cuore and corazon. The meaning meaning of discordia as "separate-heartedness" is clear (thanks to Joonas for putting it so aptly;) but I'm not convinced it has to be the exclusive meaning of Discordia.

It's particular note that Discordia is a goddess, and what I sometimes think of when hear her name is the "κόρη" as in "Divider Girl Divine" = Strife Goddess. In this conception, Discordia is descriptive of Ἔρις.

Obviously dios is phonetically distinct from dis, and yet there is a relationship between "dis" to "deus"--the Lewis & Short entry on the preceding link lists dis (short vowel) as a dative form of deus, and offers phrases such as "si dis placet" ("if it please the gods") and "dis hominibusque invitis", which uses the alternate meaning ("in spite of every body").

Additionally "Dīs" connotes deity, initially Jupiter, and subsequently the inverse of Jupiter as god of the underworld. Cicero suggests that Dīs derives from dives, per the Plutonian association, and divido shares a meaning with the particle dis in the sense of separation, or apartness. The introduction of a v gives us words meaning divine, such as divus.

I don't think the association of the Dioskouroi with discord is purely linguistic. When I think of brothers in general, and these brothers in particular, wrestling often comes to mind, which is consistent with the conception of twins as representation of the binary. I tend to associate these twins with Eteocles and Polynices, but I need to look into this more deeply.

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    I don't see any relationship here. Heracles also wrestled. Doesn't mean he's connected to discord. The etymology of both are well-attested. At best you might find a pun, but in Roman religion, there's no connection between the Dioskouroi and discord.
    – cmw
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 2:05
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    You should also look further at – or 'drill down into' – the results for dis and deus that you linked to. There's no relationship between the prefix dis and the noun deus, and nothing in those results actually indicates that there is. Deus just happens to use the same 3 letters (but with a long i) in some forms.
    – cnread
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 2:22
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    I'm sorry, but words are cognate only if they share a common origin. Accidents of spelling, and fanciful explanations for why they could be related, don't make words cognates. The prefix dis and the noun deus (in any of its forms) simply do not to my knowledge – or according to the sources that I've consulted – share a common origin; and nothing on the page that you linked to establishes such as a link. It's just giving the etymology of the prefix dis.
    – cnread
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 3:08
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    +1 because, while I think some of the premises guiding this line of thought are mistaken, latin.stackexchange.com is a good place to get disabused of them, and the OP's research is shown, enabling us to fruitfully "root" out the errors.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 4:07
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    @BenKovitz Thank you for making that point. I posted on Latin for either support or critique, as an element of a mythology answer related to the brothers. I've had this association as long as I can remember (my obsession with Greek mythology started when I was five) but I can't recall if the brothers fighting was something I'd read, or the idea of a linguistic link was something I was taught, or if the association arises purely from esoteric medieval interpretations of the twins as a symbol.
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 4:43

2 Answers 2


Some of this is already included in the comments, but let me try to organize the various thoughts into an answer.

First, discordia is quite literally "separate-heartedness". The prefix dĭs- (with a short I) indicates separation physically or mentally; cf. discurrere and dissentire for example. The Latin stem cord- means "heart", and the D is dropped in the nominative cor. The suffix -ia is essentially the same as the English "-ness".

The prefix dĭs- has nothing to do with the plural dative and ablative dīs of deus (with a long I). There is also the adjective di(ve)s and a god's name Dis. Yes, the prefix looks the same, but it does not imply any etymological connection to the other words. If you look up the etymology of dis somewhere, be careful; pay attention to which dis is in question. I find it confusing, too, especially since all sources do not explicitly distinguish the words. For example, the Wikipedia link you give tells that Cicero derives the god's name Dis from the adjective di(ve)s.

Second, the word Dioscuri is directly loaned from the Greek Διόσκουροι, literally "boys of Zeus".

Even if there was an etymological connection between Ζεύς and dis- or κοῦρος and cor, the connection was surely lost by the time the words discordia and Διόσκουροι were formed. Perhaps someone better versed in etymology can give PIE roots for each word to make the point stronger. Wiktionary gives the roots (for Ζεύς, dis-, κοῦρος, and cor) dyḗws, dwóh₁, ḱer-, and ḱḗr-, which are all distinct, but I can't judge how reliable Wiktionary is in this respect.

So, I see no plausible connection between the two words. They do look somewhat similar, and maybe that could be used for a pun. But similarity does not mean that the words are cognates; being cognate means having a common origin, not looking alike. In fact, the English word comes directly from the Latin word cognatus.

Amendment corresponding to edits in the question:

In si dis placet the word dis is simply a plural dative of deus, and in dis (hominibusque) invitis an ablative. I see nothing more in it. Similarly, nobis placet means "it pleases us" or "we like" and nobis invitis means "in spite of us" or "against our will". The word dis brings no special tone here, it's just a form of deus.

The different meanings of dis(-) might make for a decent wordplay, but the separative dis- is semantically and etymologically disconnected from deus. I get the feeling that you want to see a deep connection that isn't there as far as anyone can tell.


Setting aside the impossibility of a linguistic connection, there's also the issue that only one of the brothers, Pollux, was known for boxing (not wrestling); Castor was known for something having to do with horses (horsemanship or maybe horse taming). This is very often brought up when the twins are mentioned – or, as in this passage from Horace, Satires 2.1.26, is the whole point of mentioning them at all:

Castor gaudet equis, ovo prognatus eodem
pugnis; quot capitum vivunt, totidem studiorum

Castor rejoices in horses, the child from the same egg rejoices in fisticuffs; however many thousands of souls live, there are just as many thousands of pursuits.

There's no discordia here; they just have different pursuits. So you'd want to look at as many other passages as you can find (and there are many), where the twins and their varying pursuits are mentioned, and see whether, even if the word discordia isn't actually used, this difference is ever framed as a serious matter of contention between them. That would provide a real, solid starting point for you.

I'm also not convinced that discordia applies to boxing (or wrestling) anyway, since it's a sport. (Granted that Pollux did have to use his fighting skills for non-sporting purposes during his time with the Argonauts.) I'd want to see some evidence that a competition of that sort was viewed as involving discordia between the two participants. Maybe if you can find instances (literary, artistic) where the two brothers boxed each other, that could be construed as discord, even if it were just for sport.

In fact, the only connection at all that I find between the brothers and discord is the story of their attempt to obtain wives by stealing the girls who were already betrothed to their cousins. I had forgotten this story until I just read it in my mythology dictionary, and I don't know what the ancient sources for it are. It was during the ensuing fight that Castor and Pollux died. Certainly, cousins fighting cousins over potential wives would count as discordia. So, if you can track down a version of this story where the word discordia is mentioned, that would also provide a solid starting point for you.

Or, if you can find a work of art that depicts the brothers (either in general or boxing each other), their abduction of their cousins' fiancées, or their fight against their cousins, and the goddess Discordia (or Eris) is shown too – much as, e.g., the goddess Peitho (Persuasion) is sometimes depicted with Helen –, that would be a starting point.

I have to admit, though, I don't think you're going to find any real evidence to support your idea. Personally, I don't even find the words close enough for a pun.

Update: I suggested a couple of times that you explore artistic depictions of the Dioscuri. If you're not already aware of it, the very best place to start for this type of research is the Lexicon iconographicum mythologiae classicae (LIMC). If you have access to a good research library (e.g., a university library), it will likely have a complete set of LIMC volumes.

  • Thanks for taking the time to post such a thorough answer. At the most fundamental level, dis or bis is a factor in the basic difference between the brothers. The symbol of the brothers represents a binary and has implications. It's true that this type of analysis comes from the Jungian school, which is regarded differently in different quarters, but has value from a narrative perspective. The larger, personal question I'm trying to answer is "why do I have this association?" All the evidence currently suggests conflation! :)
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 19:41
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    @DukeZhou, Perhaps some part of your mind is conflating Castor & Pollux and Romulus & Remus. So perhaps you'd also want to see whether R&R are ever identified (in literature, art) with C&P; and, if they are, what is made of that identification? Or perhaps you could ground your investigation by first doing research in the general subject of twins in antiquity. I'm sure someone must have written such a study.
    – cnread
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 20:15
  • haha. That's where my mind was going. I suspect Campbell would absolutely link the Dioskouri with R&R, and likely point back to Cain and Able and Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Wikipedia lists a theory from Anglo Saxon England conflating the pairs per a runic inscription, but I'm still trying to track down the citation: "The Travelling Twins: Romulus and Remus in Anglo-Saxon England"
    – DukeZhou
    Commented Jun 18, 2017 at 20:27

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